Off to the races with Airship Challenge 1899 – a new 2-6 player racing game

 Board and Card Games, Game School  Comments Off on Off to the races with Airship Challenge 1899 – a new 2-6 player racing game
Sep 222015
 

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Airship Challenge is a race game for 2-6 players, ages 8+ and takes 20-30 minutes to play.

Theme

The Year – 1899. The challenge – Your tandem team of dirigibles, racing through canyons, valleys and the open air, must field at least one airship that is the first across the finish line. It’s the first ever Airship Challenge!

Players are owners of Dirigible Manufacturers in this grand age of steam from an 1899 that never was! To highlight the latest in steam technology and lighter than air travel you have organized the first annual Airship Challenge.

How Airship Challenge 1899 Works

Got to run my first live game of Airship Challenge 1899! Of course I immediately changed some of the rules and we restarted. It was a 2 player game, me against my 9 year old (who won in the end). I also only had to scratch out 50% of the text on 1 of the tokens, which may be a new record for me in the first live playing of any game I’ve designed.

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Each Owner has ships represented by colored pawns. Each player has 2 ships in their fleet. One player should take all of the ships in their hand, shake up the pawns and grabbing them randomly one by one place them in a line on the table. The first pawn on the table represents the pole position to start off the race.

Each player then places one Minor Tail Wind token in front of them. This creates the beginning of the race conditions in your game.

Place the rest of the 48 hexagon tokens into the bag, and shake it vigorously. Then the first player draws two tokens for every player, plus one extra token. (Tokens could also be hexed shaped cards)

These tokens are placed on the table where they are easily reached by everyone. The player to the left of the first player begins the draft by picking 1 token and placing it face down in front of them. The draft goes around the table until every player has 2 tokens. The last remaining token is put back in the bag.

These initial tokens form your hand of 2 tokens. At the start of the game, savvy players will know what each other player has in their hands. Your hands however will change rapidly during the game and it’s up to each player to decide which of the three race conditions in their hands they’ll encounter.

The first player then begins the game by drawing 1 new token from the bag. After looking at this token, they then choose one of the tokens in their hand and play it. Tokens must always be played touching at least one other token. When that token’s action is revealed, it triggers every other token it is also touching. Tokens triggered in this way do NOT trigger other tokens they are touching.

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In this way, each player can trigger between two and five tokens on their turn. They may trigger these in any order they choose but they must carry out the actions on every token triggered.

If, through the play of tokens any player is allowed to take a token from the table and place it into their hands, they must only take tokens that will not leave any other tokens unconnected. All tokens must be touching at least one other token throughout the game.

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This allows for some fairly strategic play, where you end up with race conditions like mine (above) where I chose to trigger only two conditions many times, or like those of my daughter (below) who chose to trigger multiple conditions, multiple times.

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When the last token is played, the race is over. Score the race in the following way:

  • A ship in 1st place = 5 points
  • A ship in 2nd place = 4 points
  • A ship in 3rd place = 3 points.
  • All other ships = 1 point.

Issues

Here are the immediate issues I’ve found and I’m always open to suggestions as to how to handle them or what a change I could implement to make the game better.

Tokens. First, in a two player game there were way to many tokens. My first initial change before we even started the game was as follows:

  • 2 Player games use 24 (of the 48) tokens chosen randomly.
  • 3 Player games use 36 tokens.
  • 4+ players use all tokens.

I would love to have an additional set of tokens say 2 of each, 3 different types for six total new tokens so that even 6 player games would have some variability over what was in the game or so that a six player game could use all of them and extend out for an additional turn.

Pawns. I really like the mechanic of the actual race – the pawns really don’t go anywhere, they don’t travel around a track or move around the table. It’s only their position that changes. This works really well in every aspect except that its, for lack of a better word, fiddly. They do tend to migrate slowly up and down the table, depending on which pawn is moving ahead of another. Were I a publisher spending money on this game I may consider some kind of sliding cardboard thingy which would facilitate this. When you’re acting on these pawns up to five times a turn, while that bit is quick, its still… fiddly. I’m thinking on this aspect now but would love to hear any thoughts or ideas on it.

Adjustment to player expectations. Lots of people see the nice, chunky race condition tiles and think “Ooh! We’re going to make the game board as we go along!” This isn’t the case in this game, you’re simply constructing a series of conditions through which your airships (and other players airships) may travel through. My 9 year old is very adaptable and ran with it and I was expecting it but I can tell from initial reactions and responses to the pictures I posted on line that most folks don’t immediately go to that. I think this can be managed simply by being very up front with how the tiles are used.

The Two Player Problem. The game, with two players, is enjoyable and interesting but there’s just as many pawns out there as I’d like to make it really engaging and to make it feel like each player is making a real, tactical decision every turn. Two solutions I’ve though of is either adding in 2 extra pawns of any color, or giving each player 3 airships to race with. Either way the total pawn count climbs to six – in the first solution there are two extra ships you’re just trying not to let get in front of you. You’d prefer they be in front of the other player however. In the three pawns each situation, each player is managing three ships and have to take into account the scoring (that a 2nd/3rd place combo will beat a 1st/4th place combo). I feel like the second solution is the better but I’m going to have to play it out to find out.

So there it is – the second game I’ve put together over the past few weeks!

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About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

My Next Game, Swamped, to be Developed by Bellwether Games

 Board and Card Games, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on My Next Game, Swamped, to be Developed by Bellwether Games
Jan 262015
 

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I am very proud to announce that after a very interesting, very productive year of development, I have a new title on the horizon!

Swamped is going to be published by Bellwether Games and we’re all hard at work making it a spectacular game to play! Dennis from Bellwether has done up a press release and I really can’t say much more than what he’s written there. But I can say I’m terribly, wonderfully excited for everyone to see more!

Here’s the press release:

About one year ago, game designer Ben Gerber contacted us about a micro-game he’d been working on that needed a publisher. This was the beginning of a very positive and productive relationship between Ben Gerber and Bellwether Games, the outcome of which is an incredibly fun and unique little game we’ve titled “Swamped!”

Although there is still a lot of work to be done and many things we’re not quite ready to share, we couldn’t help but give you at least a glimpse at what this game is about:

You’ve only just met your companions—a motley assemblage of characters from who-knows-where. You’ve been told each one of you was “hand-selected” for this urgent (or desperate) expedition into one of the world’s most feared swamps, but this thought provides you little solace.

Together in a tiny boat, you and your team have been tasked to find a rare herb with chemical properties that will help your employer cure the great disease of your time. At least, that is the plan. This swamp is full of secret and valuable treasures…and hidden dangers. Will your team honor their contracts and complete the mission before daylight fades, or will hidden agendas and unknown obstacles lure you deeper and deeper into the swamp?

Swamped is a card game for 2-4 adventurers and plays in about 30 minutes. In the game players navigate their shared vessel through a dangerous water-logged jungle in search of lucrative natural resources. Your expressed goal is to help “save the world,” but as time runs out, your own secret motives may lead everyone into deadly peril.

There is not yet a launch date for a Swamped Kickstarter campaign, but we will soon be making a print and play with demo artwork available for you to test out. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project so far and can’t wait to get started on this adventure with you!

 

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Game School: Gaido moves forward and I enter my first design contest

 Board and Card Games, Game School, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on Game School: Gaido moves forward and I enter my first design contest
Nov 222013
 

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There comes a time in every game designers life when they find themselves contemplating contests. There are a ton of game design contests out there, ranging from simple, self fulfilling things to big prizes and publishing deals.

Gaido has finally gotten to the point where I think it’s ready to be shown off even more, so I’ve entered it into The Game Crafter’s Micro Game Challenge contest!

The basics of the contest are this: The game has to fit into a tuck box (what a deck of cards generally comes in) and has to retail for $11.99 or less. Gaido fits both of these quite nicely! It looks like I’m up against some pretty good and interesting games, and a few…uh… others. (Who’s Genitalia for instance).

If you’re a member of The Game Crafter community, have 10 crafter points to spare and you’re interested in Gaido, I’d really appreciate your vote! There’s a lot of games there, so feel free to CTRL-F for Gaido. There is a little under 2 days left for public voting, to narrow the field down to the top 20 contenders.

This very contest also spurred me on with Comet Cowboys, although it didn’t make the cut in time for the contest entry. It did get me to develop a lot faster and start play testing sooner than I had anticipated, which is a good thing!

I’m happy to say that Gaido has received two polite rejections from honest to gosh game publishers, and is now being considered by a third. Both of the rejections came with encouragement and some advice, which I happily accepted.

 

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.